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The fall is not the failure

Updated: Jan 1, 2021

There is a saying that I find very helpful :

Translated somewhat to :

The fall is not the failure. The failure is staying where you fell.

Living in a world that is rather averse to the idea of failure, there are many reasons why I love this saying.

It is relatively well known that success rarely comes without any failures. In fact, the lessons learned from failure usually pave the path to success.

What do you do after a fall? Get up, dust yourself off. Let’s go.

The question is, do you try again? Or do you change your path?

It’s tough, because there are so many inspirational sayings about perseverance,

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas Edison

If you try one more time, one more thing, it just may be the thing that brings you success beyond your wildest dreams.

But is it in the direction you want to go?

What does success actually mean to you?

There is no right or wrong answer. It is literally whatever will bring you the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that makes you feel good.

For me, I used to think success was very material. It would be the tenured position I held at a university. I would see how all of my hard work had paid off. I would have enough money to have a nice home, drive a nice car, live comfortably, take vacations, eat good food and enjoy life.

Today, I am writing this blog post from my old bedroom at my parents’ home with Wicket lying by my side, and I feel happy to be able to share these thoughts with you and happy to be able to dedicate time to my dog and my family. It feels pretty amazing. I spent a lot of time chasing ‘success’ that never brought me true satisfaction.

So what’s my point?

Sometimes when a fall knocks us off our path, we are so focused on fixing the failure that we focus our energy on getting right back to where we fell from without considering whether or not that is still where we want to be. I’ve spent a lot of my life doing this – if you’ve ever heard me talk metaphorically about my life of building and rebuilding sandcastles, this is essentially what I was doing.

A fall is the ideal opportunity to re-calibrate. Really tap into our true (and current) desires. Re-frame the vision we have for our life, create a new plan, new commitment, and follow through with the action until it is complete or we have our next fall and need to re-calibrate again.

Sometimes the answer is to learn the lesson and retry.

Sometimes the answer is to take a new direction.

Neither of these is a failure.

I do encourage you to try again if it is something that you really want and perhaps the fall just broke your ego or made you afraid to try again.

But if after you fall, you realize that the struggle is not worth it, that your values have changed or that you weren't really aligned with your values in the first place. Move on. Change your path.

There is no shame in that.

If we are living well, there is a good chance that we are constantly growing, evolving and becoming. Have the confidence to shed your old skin, let go of what no longer serves you, and move forward authentically along your new path.

People may laugh and 'cheers' to what they see as your failure. People may pity you for not achieving their definition of success and the kind ones may try to protect you from it by encouraging you not to change.

Only you know what is best for you. Only you are responsible for you. And in the end, the only person you have to answer to, the only person you have to explain yourself to is YOU. Only you will look back on your own life with satisfaction or regret.

Have faith in yourself. Chose the path that is right for you.

Be courageously, authentically, you!

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